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Digiphile
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Catherine - First, an apology. I think I've done more to answer your questions than simply 'post that link' -- but given what you've told me about the content of that page, you've been the victim of unfair and untrue misrepresentation online that you can't remove. Believe me when I say that I know that feeling. I'm not proud of directing attention there and, while I have personally experienced some of the behavior described therein, if I could delete the link from my comment above, I would. Second, you write that "the people" and "their elected representatives" should "come first instead of me." I was asked for feedback on Canada's open government plan by Canada's and I gave it. Later, I published my notes. Perhaps that Canadian government could have followed a different course in how it gathered feedback on this plan. This panel was the mechanism by which they chose to collect what they describe as expert feedback. If you aren't familiar with the past year or so of Canada's history in this area, they held a public consultation on their national plan, as each participant in the Open Government Partnership had to do to join. I was not the "first," only, or last voice making any open recommendations. I was one of many people. The quality of the overall public consultation with the Canadian people, however, has been criticized by some members of Canada's civil society. The context of this blog post, after all, is that the current administration in Canada's record on open government is mixed. That is, as you know, also the case in many other countries, including its neighbors to the south. Since it appears that you are unfamiliar with his face -- true of most Americans, I imagine -- you may not realize that it was MP Tony Clement leading the discussion during the February telepresence conference. (He's pictured in the image at the top of the post you've linked twice.) If talking with him over telepresence constitutes "meeting him," then we did "meet" in two months ago, as opposed to an in-person meeting embassy in Brazil. Third, my decision to travel south to Brazil was not tied to the Canadian government or any recommendations. This conference had some 1200 representatives from 70 countries, which constituted a great opportunity for me to meet members of civil society and government officials who had traveled from abroad. I went to Brasilia to cover the event for O'Reilly Media, in partnership with America Speaks and the Open Government Partnership. In that context reported on Day 1 of the conference, moderated the opening panel of the second day of the conference, interviewed civil society and government leaders on the livestream and then liveblogged the meeting of civil society organizations. Archives of all of that work can be found here: http://opengovpartnership.org and on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr and Radar. Since you've pointedly asked, I paid for my flights to and from Brazil up front and then submitted expenses to O'Reilly Media for reimbursement. Fourth, with respect to Rep. Darrell Issa and "Gov 2.0 thingies," the Republican Congressman from California's 49th District, anyone with an Internet connection can see the campaign contributions he's received in one click, below: 1) Maplight: http://maplight.org/us-congress/legislator/300-darrell-issa 2) OpenCongress: http://www.opencongress.org/people/money/400196_Darrell_Issa 3) OpenSecrets, which supplies the data to Open Congress: http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cycle=2010&cid=N00007017 As the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Issa is entrusted with working with his fellow Congressmen to hold the executive branch accountable. Whether he is the "right person" to do that work is up for debate; what's less so is that it's generally the role of the head of that Committee in our system of government. Finally, the only time I have ever "installed" a government, much less by "revolutionary fiat," is while playing Sid Meier's "Civilization" computer game. (After playing for a while, I found that attaining democracy was both the greatest generation of knowledge and productivity and yet the most fragile system to maintain. Given that today is World Press Freedom day, maybe that's worth pointing out.) You once wrote that "a few years ago or whenever it was that he started out on Twitter, with the handle "digiphile," he seemed like this nice guy who was kinda curious and kinda enthusiastic about technology and basically an interesting geek." That would be me, back in March 2007. 5 years later, I still like to think of myself that way. All things considered, I can't help but wish that you did too, instead of making these comments on Tom's blog. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that I can change your feelings towards my current employer, which predated my work there, nor my association with it. We'll have to agree to disagree regarding O'Reilly being a cult. http://www.quora.com/Leadership/Does-Tim-OReilly-run-a-cult To be honest, I have found over the past two years or so since I joined O'Reilly Media that I have two hundred or so brilliant, talented and humane co-workers, not cultists. They write and edit books, publish and distribute them, organize and run conferences, create and edit video or software, or help run the business, among many other amazing things. I'm proud to collaborate with the editorial team at the O'Reilly Radar and to have contributed my work to many other reputable publications. I do, however, regret any part I've played in generating this amount of negativity in this forum. To do so was not my intention.
Toggle Commented May 4, 2012 on Why the "Open Data Movement" is a Joke at Whimsley
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@Catherine: I did not "duck" every other pertinent issue you raised. As you have pointed out, I am not your elected representative. I am not accountable to you nor must I answer every wild accusation you make nor refute every unfounded assertion you conjure up. I will respond further here, however, on some specific points for the benefit of other readers who may read this blog. A) Tony Clement is a Member of Parliament (Parry Sound-Muskoka) and President of the Treasury Board of Canada. If describing him as a "minister" in my post was incorrect, I regret the error. He is the relevant government official accountable for open government policy in the Canadian national government. C) I did not get a "gig" after "schmoozing" with him, as you claim. (Thus, the correction). I was invited to sit on this panel in early 2012. I accepted and joined a meeting on 2/28 via telepresence. I met Clement and his staff for the first time in Brazil in April. D) I do believe that the subsequent invitation to the embassy -- along with other members of civil society on the Canadian delegation -- was related to my membership on the panel. The courtesy was extended to others who traveled to Brazil as well. E) Unfortunately, I see little point in arguing with you with respect to my status, my company, the purpose of my work or the various assertions that you've made on your blog or comment here. Your blog posts, tweets and comment have an established pattern: accuse people engaged in open government, open data or open source technology of being "technocommunists." When someone objects to your wild accusations, ad hominem attacks and conspiracy theories, you deride them are "thin skinned geeks," as above. In Second Life, your behavior has been chronicled extensively: http://encyclopediadramatica.se/Prokofy_Neva If someone highlights this record of behavior, you find it "creepy." F) As a result, my conclusion has long been that you will believe what you wish to and will say what you want to, notwithstanding any other contention or evidence provided. If I decided to point to numerous Congressional oversight hearings on e-government, federal IT and open government, like: http://gov20.govfresh.com/open-government-scrutinized-before-the-house-oversight-committee/ -- akin to what you demand -- or the recent bipartisan passage of the DATA Act - sponsored by Republicans - would it matter? Based upon the evidence, I suspect not. G) You have variously called me a "PR person," lobbyist or one of an unspecified group of "Gov 2.0 prissies." What can you say to someone that insists that you belong to a cult? Or that I have little to no editorial integrity? In some countries, your accusations would be libelous. Anyone reading this is welcome to look at the body of my work online, going back to 2006 when I joined TechTarget, long before I joined O'Reilly Media, and judge for themselves the quality of my journalism and the integrity with which I've handled myself, both online and off.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2012 on Why the "Open Data Movement" is a Joke at Whimsley
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To correct the record that Catherine Fitzpatrick has distorted on her blog, as per usual: my participation on the Canadian open government panel was unpaid, voluntary and non-binding. The invitation did not come after meeting any MP nor did it involve travel to Canada; I met over telepresence. http://gov20.govfresh.com/eight-open-government-recommendations-for-canada/ Readers can judge the merits of the rest of her comments on their own.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2012 on Why the "Open Data Movement" is a Joke at Whimsley
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Tom: A couple of points, since you've specifically mentioned me here. First, an apology for the tone and tenor of my comments online. I'm not proud of the language I used in that context and I wish I'd been more considered. The last time I read one of your posts, it did indeed suffer from an incomplete assessment of the facts available -- as I commented -- and I felt this was the case here as well. Morozov's points about your raising critical questions are legitimate, however, and my comments could easily be read as being dismissive of their pertinence. That's not good behavior, and I'm sorry for it. I did think -- and still do -- that the latter half of your post needed to include some basic research that would have improved its discussion of the issues involved, particularly with respect to the tension between open data and open government. Tom Lee's assessment is fair and accurate here and might be a guide for self-reflection, given that, as you say, Sunlight is "on the side of the angels." The comments you are receiving on that post -- particularly Carl Malamud's -- may serve as a bellwhether there. I'd refer you to the discussion in the latter portion of this article: http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/12/data-gov-open-source.html and a recent research paper by Yu and Robinson: http://gov20.govfresh.com/on-the-ambiguity-of-open-government-and-open-data/ along with the broader discussion you'll find in civil society in the lead up to the Open Government Partnership, where this dynamic was the subject of much concern, and not just in a Canadian or UK context. One reason that your post may have received this attention -- and continues to do so -- is that it does not read as "The problem with open data versus open government in Canada" but instead as an indictment of what's happening in the U.S. or around the world. You walk this back a bit in this post to clarify what you meant. I suspect that if you'd stopped after the first half of what you'd written and taken that focus, I wouldn't be surprised to see people from civil society and NGOs nodding along. One reason those legitimate concerns are not receiving the attention that you might like may be that you coupled them with a headline and analysis that distract from them. As the conversation on Twitter and elsewhere in the public sphere over the past few years has demonstrated, there are a lot of different perspectives on what purposes "open data" should serve, often informed by what the watcher intends or the organization's goals. There are people who want to see legislature open their data, to provide more insight into those processes. In the U.S., Govtrack.us has been making government legislative data open. There are others who wish to see campaign finance data open, like the Sunlight Foundation, to show where influence and power lies in the political system. There are others who wish to see transit data or health data become more open, in the service of more civic utility or patient empowerment -- you can look at the efforts of the VA in the US on that count -- and if you consider that such data can include ratings or malpractice information about hospitals or doctors, or fees for insurance companies, transparency and accountability is a goal, which in turn does have political implications. One could spend quite a bit of time listing organizations or individuals who are putting data online, from Carl Malamud to open government activists in Brazil, Africa or yes, Canada. Whether you wish to describe those activities as a movement is up to you -- but it is indisputable that 3 years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to find a open government data platform. Now there are dozens at the national level. What matters more than their existence is what goes onto them, however, and there people have to be extremely careful about giving governments credit for just putting a "portal" online. There are also, notably, many civil society and media organizations that are collecting and sharing open data, from OpenCorporates to OpenCongress, and startups as well, like Brightscope. There are a lot of different voices in this space. Asking hard questions is important and useful, particularly given that motivations and context will differ from country to country and from industry to civil society. In my country, there is a sizable group of people that believe that data created using public funds should in turn be made available to the public -- and that the Internet is a highly effective place to make such data available. (See the Sunlight Foundation's support for POIA, or "Public = Online.) Such thinking extends to research or code now too. Whether one agrees with that or not is, of course, something that free thinkers in democratic society to decide for themselves. Given the pervasive tendency towards more secrecy, not less, and my experience in open government over the past few years, my tendency is towards public by default as opposed to its inverse. Finally, since you brought the source of your frustration up, I want to be clear: the issues you cited with respect to Canada's open government record are not founded in speculation, as your links and points demonstrate (although as one commenter pointed out, a link used regarding a firing goes back to 2004). The Harper administration has received the dubious distinction of a secrecy award. It did cancel Canada's long-form census, prompting the resignation of the head of the Statscan service. And journalists have been confronted with limited access to government scientists, much in the same vein of open government issues in the United States: http://www.cjr.org/feature/transparency_watch_a_closed_door.php Highlighting the difference between rhetoric and actions is a crucial role for civil society and independent media in any open government context. To the extent you do that here, I applaud your actions.
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